Neisseria meningitides

What is Neisseria meningitides?

Neisseria meningitides is a gram negative diplococci aerobic, non-endsporing bacterium which causes meningitis which can only affect humans. Neisseria meningitides is often referred to meningococcal disease.The bacterium is usually found in the mucus membrane of the noses and the throats as a parasite, but rarely causes disease. It causes imflammation of the meninges layer of the surrounding brain causing meningistis. Neisseria meningitides (N. meningitides) are non-motile bacteria and can be spread throughout the blood by the blood stream. This can cause chronic illnesses by invasion disease and may cause brain damage or death even if treated.
The diagram below shows a diplococci of Neisseria meningitides
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How does N. meningitides attack and spread?
The bacteria does not spread by breathing the same air where with disease has been. It can be spread from person to person through exchanging of respiratory and throat secretions. This can occur through coughing, sneezing, chewing on toys and kissing.
Meningococcal disease causes inflammation of the tissue covering of the brain and spinal cord i.e. the meninges leading to sepsis, a blood borne by a bacteria.

Who is at risk for N. meningitides?
Almost anyone can catch N, meningitides but most commonly in childre and infants as they are more vulnerable. People with close contact with patients with meningitis are in greater risk and this include families that are in the same household as the patient or anyone with direct contact with discharges from patient’s mouth and nose or day-care centre.

What are the signs and symptoms?
The main symptoms of N. meningitides are: -
· High fever
· Headaches
· Stiff neck
· Rashes
Non- blanching can develop rapidly which usually appear at the groin, armpits and ankles. Also in areas where elastic pressure occurs for example underwear and socks etc.
The symptoms can develop over several hours or even days usually about 1-2 days.
Other signs and symptoms are: -
· Vomiting
· Nausea
· Weakness
· Confusion
· Low blood pressure
· Sleepiness

Patients with invasive N. meningitides and without intravenous antibiotics treatment, the bacterium can cause extreme delirium, seizure, coma and cause death.